[information provided by our partners at www.infantsee.org]
InfantSEE® is a public health program managed by Optometry’s Charity TM – The AOA Foundation. It is designed to ensure that eye and vision care become an integral part of infant wellness care to improve a child’s quality of life. Under this program, AOA optometrists like Dr Ross at Advanced Family Eye Care (AFEC) provide a complimentary comprehensive eye and vision assessment for infants within the first year of life regardless of a family’s income or access to insurance coverage.
When you are expecting, proper prenatal care and nutrition are very important to the development of healthy eyes and the related nervous system. Researchers are continually discovering more about the link between nutrition and eyesight.
(0) At Birth
“Opening to a new world.”
It might take a moment or two for your baby’s eyes to open. His/her eyes should be examined for signs of congenital eye problems. These are rare, but early diagnosis and treatment are important to your child’s development. Health professionals typically administer an antibiotic ointment, such as erythromycin, to prevent infection. Within a short period of time, your baby will begin to focus on objects less than a foot away, such as mom’s face when nursing.
The latest research shows that complex shapes and high contrast targets best stimulate the interest of infants. When setting up baby’s room, include décor that is bright, contrasting and varied. Babies’ eyes are drawn to new objects, so be prepared to change the location of items. Also have a nightlight, to provide visual stimulation when the baby is awake in bed. While children should be put down to sleep on their backs to reduce the chance of
SIDS, they should have supervised time on their stomach. This provides important visual and motor experiences.
(2) Two Months Old
“Learning to look.”
For the first six to eight weeks of life, it is normal for a child’s eyes to not always work together. This should not be a concern unless the child’s eyes are never aligned or their alignment does not gradually improve. Tears are normal for many children because the tear drainage ducts may not have fully opened. They usually open on their own, but the doctor should be informed and he or she will suggest what to do to stimulate the opening of the ducts if it continues or seems excessive.
(4) Four Months Old
“Eyes, brains, hands.”
During the first four months of life, your baby should begin to follow moving objects with the eyes and reach for things. At first, this will be inconsistent, and later more accurate as eye-hand coordination and depth perception begin to develop. During the next few months, your baby should begin to use his/her arms and legs. Eye movement and eye/body coordination skills continue to develop as vision progressively stimulates and
(6) Six Months Old
“A trip to the optometrist.”
Your baby’s first visit to your doctor of optometry for a comprehensive eye assessment should be scheduled at six months of age. The optometrist will test for visual acuity, excessive or unequal amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, evaluate eye alignment, and examine eye teaming ability. The health of your baby’s eyes will be assessed as well. Although problems are not common, it is important to identify children who have specific risk factors at this stage. Vision development and eye health problems can be more easily corrected if treatment is begun early.
(8-12) Eight to Twelve Months Old
Your baby is mobile now, being attracted to objects in their visual environment. He is using both eyes together to judge distances, and is grasping and throwing objects with greater precision. Crawling is important for developing eye-hand-foot-body coordination.